Jon Stewart, Enemy of Democracy?

So wonders Richard Morin. The evidence:

Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart's faux news program, "The Daily Show," develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting…

To test for a "Daily Effect," Baumgartner and Morris showed video clips of coverage of the 2004 presidential candidates to one group of college students and campaign coverage from "The CBS Evening News" to another group. Then they measured the students' attitudes toward politics, President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).

The results showed that the participants rated both candidates more negatively after watching Stewart's program. Participants also expressed less trust in the electoral system and more cynical views of the news media, according to the researchers' article, in the latest issue of American Politics Research.
He winds up his snippet with this quote: "Ultimately, negative perceptions of candidates could have participation implications by keeping more youth from the polls.”

Of course, I’m not a lazy piece of shit, so I went and did some research about this study—and whaddaya know?! The possibility of driving young people away from the polls was not the researchers’ definitive conclusion.

Alienation could drive the show's watchers away from polls during election, they said. Discontent could also spawn greater involvement.

Another possibility: As "Daily Show" viewers grow more confident in political knowledge — a byproduct of "getting" Stewart's humor — they could become more active voters, Baumgartner said.

"Participation breeds more participation and informed participation" he said. "So that by itself would be a net positive."
Gee, so you mean, political cynicism makes some people apathetic and some people inspired to effect change?! What a fucking shocker! Does that mean that a professional comedian might not be an enemy of democracy after all?!

Weirdly, a search for “Ann Coulter, enemy of democracy?” did not turn up any articles of the same name. Neither did searches for “Michelle Malkin, enemy of democracy?”, “Bill O’Reilly, enemy of democracy?” or “Sean Hannity, enemy of democracy?”. Huh.

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